“Dumber To” stupid but funny
It’s rare to see a sequel try and match the magic of the original. Let alone a follow-up to one that was a massive hit 20 years ago. The long and overdue entry is considered a sign of death to a franchise considering how many ideas are still floating about Hollywood like Ghostbusters 3 (or the reboot) and the possible Indiana Jones 5. The last thing to expect is Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels getting together again for a sequel to their cult hit Dumb and Dumber. Rarer still knowing how Jim rarely does a sequel as Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls proved that revisiting a character is best one time around. But for “Dumb and Dumber To,” everything almost works and surprisingly I found myself chuckling at its dumbfounded comedy and storyline. Not for the sake of it being a good movie, but knowing that its just mindless comedy trying its best.
As said, Jim and Jeff return as Lloyd Christmas (Carey) and Harry Dunne (Daniels), two dim-witted people that are a throwback to the altruist days of the Stooges but far more brainless. It can be said that this incarnation is far more idiotic but I guess dumb has a way of aging. Stranger is how in the first movie Lloyd and Harry were able to have small-time jobs and loose them yet here they are very much without a position. At this point, who cares? Its great to see two characters back even if there’s no purpose. Seeing two good actors play off each other is just a delight considering how the juvenile and crude side of their personality is intact. But maybe its pushed too far like in scenes when they con for free beer by stinking up the ale with a trick taken straight out of Brodie’s book of palm stanking. And if you haven’t seen Mallrats, you will not get the reference here.
There is a story to go along with this farce as Harry finds out he is possible a father but his kid named Penny is living with a rich and powerful family. The bizarre irony is how a teenager can attend a technological convention and claim to have smarts but yet is dim to the point she can’t lift the lid off a hotel dish. Wouldn’t it be a funnier idea if she was a genius and not as dumb as her possible biological father? I say possible father because the movie plays around with the idea of who could be the possible dad and to be fair the reveal comes in a rather clever twist that I didn’t see coming.
The real reason for the trip is more than daddy issues as Harry’s kidney is on its last legs and in dire need of a replacement. The whole drive is just to meet up with his estranged kid and hopefully perform an organ transplant. But along the way the simple story gets complex as we fall into the same plot elements and tropes that were present in the first film. The briefcase full of money is now a package that holds a cure for humanity and two mafia thugs are replaced with Penny’s mom who plans to kill her spouse for the inheritance money. For the follow-up to a movie that had a simple story, this one gets complex too easily. One minute is about the kidney transplant, then its about the wife hiring twin thugs to take out Lylod and Harry and then its about Harry getting mistaken as a professor at the convention resulting him judging ideas that could benefit humanity but dejects them. There’s too much going on as one storyline after another builds and builds to a climax that concludes on a soft note instead of a big one.
That is very much a staple of the Farley Brother’s style as they like to push the laughs of a joke while their movies seem to end with a weak payoff. It feels like after so many well-written set pieces like the hair gel in There’s Something About Mary or Jim Carrey’s self fight in Me, Myself and Irene that finding a way to top that in its climax feels impossible and wrap things up too quick. This was a problem I had with even the first movie as it ends in a lame way. I’m not referring to the hilarious moment in the desert but the way they wrap up loose ends really feels rushed and not well done. And no better can be said here as everything is wrapped up without the promise of a proper finale. Its a pet peeve I’ve had with them for a while and disappointed to see it hasn’t been improved on.
Looking past that, “Dumb and Dumber To” may not be a good movie but its perfect for those who want something mindless. There’s truly some surprises in store for fans of the old and those who are new. This entry is very much two films in one as it retreads material from the first movie while trying out some new material. I admit some of the jokes like trying to follow the address on a letter had me stitches while other gags like a disgusting joke that involves a flashback to Harry in his teen years left me feeling awkward. There’s a strange balance between goofy humor and dark material that clashes between being funny, too juvenile and at some points a bit mean spirited.
While one of the dark jokes does create a good comeback near the end, one tends to think what it would be like if that “callback” didn’t exist. Would it make Harry and Lloyd bad people or would viewers really care? Even more awkward is a subplot where Lloyd plans to hit it off with Harry’s 22 year old kid that lingers between creepy and questionably funny for its awkward presence. There are some callbacks to the first film that give it a wholesome nostalgic feeling like the blind kid Billy making a cameo in a scene that has dark but hilarious results. Little nods like that to the original are fine but going as far to seemingly duplicate plot elements from the first film feel predicable and tiring. We know there’s something disappointing in that mysterious package they carry and there’s way too many day dream scenes that could have benefited in removal for better pacing.
If that wasn’t enough, there’s a good handful of cameos here and there I admit find amusing like Bill Murry’s secret appearance while others like a certain reality TV celebrity (who will not be named) suffered for being too obvious and one-note jokey. I admit, I did chuckle in spots and there were a couple of times I did laugh out loud at some of the “set piece” jokes like Lloyd unsuccessfully stealing hearing aids from a retirement home. I can’t say I didn’t hate “Dumb and Dumber To” as I knew exactly what to expect. Mindless comedy exists just for the sake of making people laugh. I see this more in vein with Anchorman 2 where they took the formula of the first film and punched it up further just for the sake of entertainment knowing the first couldn’t be topped. Obviously this one won’t be to everyone’s taste but if you are a fan of the first film, I’m sure you’ll enjoy this “20th Anniversary” trip down memory lane. Others might be disappointing in seeing how less “clever” and “smart” this film can get. But what do you expect from a movie when two characters ride down the highway on a Zamboni? While I enjoyed it for its laughs, its hard for me to recommend seeing how divided “Dumber To” is with its viewers. In short, only worth it if you want time to kill and mindless comedy.
Posted on November 15, 2014, in In Theaters (Sort of) and tagged Bill Murry, Buddy comedy, Dumb and Dumber, Dumb and Dumber To, Farley Brothers, Harry Dunne, Jeff Daniels, Jim Carrey, Kathleen Turner, Lloyd Christmas, road trip film, Three Stooges. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.